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Volume 36 Issue 3 (April 2005), Pages 259-411

INTUITIONS AND SEMANTIC THEORY (pages 363-380)

Abstract: While engaged in the analysis of philosophically central concepts, analytic philosophers have traditionally relied extensively on their own intuitions about when such concepts can be correctly applied. Intuitions have, however, come under increasingly critical scrutiny of late, and if they turned out not to be a reliable tool for the proper analysis of our concepts, then a radical reworking of analytic philosophy's methodology would be in order. One influential line of criticism against the use of intuitions argues that they only tell us about our conceptions of things, and not the things themselves. This venerable line of criticism can seem considerably strengthened if one endorses “externalist” accounts of meaning. Nevertheless, the move from semantic externalism to the rejection of intuitions will be shown to be illegitimate if one has a constitutive rather than expressive understanding of the relation between our intuitions and our concepts.

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